8 Things You Didn’t Know About Independence Hall

independence hall

This 4th of July before you light off those fireworks, learn just a little bit about America’s birthday. Independence Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in America and has quite a history that most of us know little about. Many people will vaguely recognize the building as having something to do with the American Revolution, but not much more than that. Here are eight facts about Independence Hall that you probably didn’t know, but will give […] Read on →

Bring Back the Front Porch

bring back the front porch

I think it’s time we brought back the front porch. For too long our garages have been growing while our porches have been shrinking. We insulate ourselves and our homes to keep the outside world out and the inside world in and we become more reclusive and less social in the process. Even going back as late as the 70s and 80s in my childhood we would play outside with the neighborhood kids until the sun went down. […] Read on →

No Joanna, That’s Not Shiplap

What is Shiplap

My wife and I like most all old home owners are fans of a lot of the restoration themed DIY shows these days. Rehab Addict, Barnyard Builders, American Pickers and of course Fixer Upper. Their designs and passion to keep original elements of old houses is so rare in the renovation game that I can’t help but root for them to succeed. One of my favorite shows is definitely Fixer Upper. Partly because I’m from Texas and partly […] Read on →

How To: Turn an Attic Into a Bedroom

how to turn an attic into a bedroom

An attic is often the easiest place to add onto your house. No foundations or setbacks to worry about. Everything is already in place you just have to transform an empty space into your vision. Create an extra bedroom, a master suite, a media room, a play room or anything you can imagine for much less than the cost of an addition. My own old house was blessed with an unfinished attic when we bought it, and I […] Read on →

An Old Fort Gets a New Look

Fort Coombs Armory

My company recently finished the restoration of the windows at Fort Coombs in Apalachicola, FL and I wanted to share the project with you. These were some unique windows from a fort with a lot of history and meaning to the residents, and I felt like the story was one that needed to be told. Fort Coombs was built in 1901 when the original fort on that same spot burned down after only 2 years of service. The […] Read on →

6 Things I Wish Architects Knew

6 Things I Wish Architects Knew

I recently learned of yet another window project gone awry. The 1920 Lake Ave. fire station in Saratoga Springs, NY is due for an renovation. It needs some structural repairs to its floors, some framing repairs and also window repairs for its almost 100 year old windows. The architect for the job decided that the best way to handle the windows would be to keep the old jambs, trash the original sash (which only lasted 95 years) and build new […] Read on →

How To: Tell If You Have a Balloon Frame House

how to tell if you have a balloon frame house

I’ve written about the differences between timber frame, balloon frame and platform frame houses in an earlier post you can read here, but I constantly get questions about how to tell if your house has balloon framing. Why do people want to know? Well, of the three types of framing balloon frame houses have the greatest danger of catastrophic fires. To be clear there is nothing intrinsically more flammable about a balloon frame house. It wasn’t built with […] Read on →

The Rush to Erase the Confederacy

confederate flag

Rarely is there a topic in current events that fits with what I post about here on The Craftsman Blog, but this week it has happened. In the wake of the horrific shooting deaths of 9 church members in South Carolina the entire nation has been gripped with a sudden fever to remove any trace of the Confederacy from our midst. Like anyone I have my opinion on the topic and I will share that with you in a […] Read on →

Preservation Lies


I feel like I post on this topic more than almost anything else, but until the truth is readily known I feel it’s my obligation to let the world know how badly government and industries like the replacement window industry are lying to not just homeowners but also architects and contractors. If you care about spreading the truth about preservation then share this post as much as possible. Writing about the how-to’s of preservation usually has very little to do […] Read on →

The Preservation Event of the Year

Historic Homes Workshop

Every week I try to teach you something useful about old houses on The Craftsman Blog. Something you can apply right away to make your house that much better. This week I’m going to do something different. There is a lot you can learn in a 500-800 word How-To post, but sometimes you just need to have someone show you in person. And that’s what I want to tell you about today. I’ve been mentioning it a lot […] Read on →

What is a Bullseye Rosette?

Bullseye Rosette

This week’s Ask the Craftsman Question comes from Jasper. “What is a Bullseye Casing?” Jasper, a bullseye casing or a bullseye rosette is the item pictured here. Rosettes were historically a very popular way to dress up door and window casings. They also made installing interior casing much easier by eliminating mitred cuts. The head casing and side casings would simply intersect the rosette in a butt joint which simplified the process. There have been many different styles […] Read on →

What is a Dovecote?


This week’s Ask the Craftsman question comes from Jennifer. “I have these little pentagon shaped openings near my roof and I’m wondering if you can tell me what they are.” Jennifer, it sounds like you’ve got dovecotes which were a popular feature on mid-century storybook style houses. A lot of folks mistake them for attic vents and in all fairness that’s all they usually are in mid-20th century houses. Dovecotes were traditionally found in the homes of nobility […] Read on →

How To: Research Your Home’s History

how to research your home's history

Most of us know little about our own home’s history, but researching your home’s history can uncover all kinds of interesting stories. For some properties that history begins with the city or county platting the area and opening it up to development. For others with very old properties it may go back far enough to include land grants from nobility. Either way it’s a lot of fun play detective to piece together decades or centuries of stories.   Making an […] Read on →

The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

Greenest Building

“The greenest building is the one that is already built.” Architect Carl Elefante who is the Director of Sustainable Design at Qunin Evans Architects in Washington, D.C. said it very succinctly. Eco-nerds talk about sustainability and energy-efficient design as much as us preservation-nerds talk about wood windows and plaster. But isn’t it amazing when two worlds that have little to do with each other normally can come together and fight side by side on an issue. Historic preservation is just […] Read on →